Peace Post Installation and Writing Contest

March 23, 2019  South High Peace Pole Continues To Bring Peace

In honor of Black History Month, South  High School held an event, organized by Isabel Rodriguez, for the PUSH parents and students.  The Peace Pole created at the See. Say. DO event by the Compassionate Conversations Project (led by Kira Corser and FE Love) was featured  during a sharing circle lead by Alex Endeshaw.  It was very powerful.  I met an amazing family there (the Dotson’s) and the dad contributed a memorable quote from Oprah Winfrey:

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

January 17, 2019

South High Peace Pole Installed; Youth Writers Celebrated
by Jill Waterhouse

On January 17, South High School students, faculty, administration and distinguished guests joined together with artists and board members from Art to Change the World, Compassionate Arts in Action and Project for Peace and Justice to celebrate the installation of the South High Peace Post.
Created in a “Safety and Justice” workshop organized for the ACW “See.Say.DO” exhibition in October of 2018, the peace post project was a collaboration between South High students of color and artists Kira Corser, Barbara Bridges, Denny Sponsler and Jill Waterhouse. The essence of the project was to create an art piece which reflected their vision for peace, justice and safety as developed in a “Compassionate Conversation” with Officer Chard, School Resource Officer for South High, and facilitated by artist FE Love (via video from California). Compassionate Conversations were designed by Compassionate Arts in Action to create a safe space for students of color and police officers to dialogue in a non-threatening environment to create greater understanding and empathy.

Using that conversation, California artist Kira Corser artfully drew out of the students the key images and texts for the post and began to apply them. Some of the final designs and text, as well as the finished painting, were completed by the lead artists in the collaboration. From December-January, local lead artists Denny Sponsler and Jill Waterhouse then created the ceramic “dove” base and wood “flame” top for the peace post’s permanent installation at South High.









addition to the creation of the Peace Post, the students worked with FE Love, Kira Corser and Barbara Bridges, with input from Denny Sponsler and Jill Waterhouse, to create an ACW Youth Council. From that effort, a student essay competition emerged which engaged the students to write about safety, justice and “respectability politics” – from a personal perspective. The essays were juried by Assistant Principal Mercedes Walker, Officer Adam Chard, FE Love, Kira Corser and Herman Milligan of the Givens  Foundation for African American Literature. The final essays of the winners, 1st Place – Carlos Ortiz, 2nd Place – Tiger Worku and Honorable Mention – Adriana Carreno.


Jill Waterhouse worked with Vice Principal Isabel Rodriguez to create this ceremony. Attending the ceremony titled “Lighting the Torch for the Compassionate Dream” were over 100 students, faculty and administration – including Ed Graff, Superintendent of Schools.  All witnessed the powerful and moving performances of the three winning student essayists and were amazed and delighted by the finished peace post. Isabel Rodriguez hosted the event and collaborators, Jill Waterhouse, FE Love, Herman Milligan, Jr. and beloved former South High art teacher, Denny Sponsler, were guest speakers. In addition, City Council Vice President, Andrea Jenkins, who had been invited but was unable to attend, sent an empowering message to the students which ended with this challenge: “Many people, many young people like yourselves, have been and continue to be engaged in the struggle for equality, fairness, and justice all around the world. So I encourage you to continue to stand strong in the face of adversity, to be intersectional in your approach, and to be fearless in your advocacy. Your work matters, your voice matters, and your lives matter.”


Funding for the Compassionate Arts “Safety and Justice” workshop, the “Posts for Peace” art project and the “Lighting the Torch for the Compassionate Dream” ceremony was provided in part by the Givens Foundation, The Minnesota Humanities Council, Officer Chard, Denny Sponsler and Barbara Bridges. These activities were also made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Support was also provided by Target.


FE Love
Peace Post

Additional in-kind documentation was provided by two students of South High’s photography instructor, Corbin Doty, as well as Layl McDill and Elliot McDill.


Adriana :



Givens Foundation-Herman Milligan:

Unveiling the Peace Post:

Message from Andrea Jenkins:

Thank You to Kira Corser for her service as film maker extraordinaire and to Layl for her service as videographer and photographer.

Chanel 5, Barbara and Officer Chard

Message from Barbara Bridges ACW Director:  ACW  is so excited to see a seed planted at our See. Say Do event grow into such a powerful tree. The Minnesota Humanities Council, The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, South High School and many ACW members contributed their time, talent and other resources to bring us here today.

This event is proof positive of what can happen when good people come together with the purpose of making the world a better place. Art CAN change the world. As with any tree, new branches are always growing. Please join us at with YOUR idea for a project.

December 2018

Peace Post Installation and Writing Contest

Respectability Politics 

Star Tribune Article


November 30. The Compassionate Arts “Safety and Justice” writing  contest starts.

Detail Description of the contest:  “Compassionate ARTS Conversations on Safety and Justice Mentorship Program”

ACW in partnership with Compassionate ARTS are inviting each member from the ARTS Youth Leadership Council and any student from South High School who attended our event See. Say. Do. to participate in a writing contest sponsored by Givens Foundation for African American Literature. The writing project needs to be a 1 page nonfiction essay or narrative from either their personal perspective or from the point of view of someone they know and can interview personally.

The literature must also explore the theme of “Safety and Justice” and keep the subject specific to their community. We ask that the students research “Responsibility Politics” while  discovering alternative and more immediate ways to reduce violence and crime in their community. The essay should address the issues and concerns the student feel most passionate about and would like to see resolve in a compassionate and humane manor.

To recap:

The non-fiction essay or writing piece needs to  include:

  •       The background information of the principal character
  •       Address the issues of “Safety and Justice,” share a perspective on “Responsibility Politics”
  •       Explore more immediate solutions that reduce violence and crime without the over-criminalization of marginalized communities, such as Black and  Brown and socially economically challenged neighborhoods and schools.
  •       We ask that all writing submissions be within 1 page length, at least a minimum of 250 words and maximum 400 words. If a student choose to send a video link of them performing their piece or visual art we will still need to have an English translated  written piece accompanied with the submission.
  •       We ask that the students avoid using any profanity or racial slurs.
  •       Deadline to qualify for the writing contest must be submitted online by  December 17th, before 11:59pm (Central Standard Time) for the $100 cash prize.
  •       Submissions after deadline will still be accepted and published on our Blogs and Websites.

The review panel will be comprised of a member from South High Faculty, Officer Adam Chard, Felecia “FE Love” Lenee, Kira Corser, and Herman Milligan.  Art to Change the World, greatly appreciate the Givens Foundation for African American Literature for funding this wonderful opportunity to engage the students at South High School in joining the conversation on Safety and Justice as it relates to their community.

December 5  Mentoring session with FE Love  at 11:15.  FE would like to use her meet up software so she can dialogue back and forth with the students.  Perhaps meet in the computer lab?  Use your own units?  DIRECTIONS for access here.

Students need to research “Responsibility Politics” before this meeting.  Do a general Google search and begin to look at the  Pros and Cons around the conversation on “Responsibility Politics”.  Come with at least one important idea which got your attention. Find creative and compassionate alternatives.

December 12 Mentoring session at 12;15.
12:15 meeting with Kira and FE in room 148 or 149 for the Peace Post project. Barbara will attend and help students connect to the meeting software   DIRECTIONS for access here. using Isabel’s computer.

1:15 for ongoing discussions for the ACW Youth Advisory Board with Barbara.  Focus on developing an “ask” to start a state youth advisory board.

$100 Essay Contest Rules:

  1. Must have a Safety and Justice topic.  Explore more immediate solutions that reduce violence and crime without the over-criminalization of marginalized communities, such as Black and Brown and socially economically challenged neighborhoods and school
  2. Must be one page between 250 and 400 words. If you produce visual art-it must include a descriptive essay.
  3. Due December 15, 2018. Please send attached PDF file to, and CC to

Judges use the following criteria.  Originality, Punctuation, Compassion, Creativity, Be Solution Oriented, share a perspective on “Respectability Politics”, and sticking to topic of SAFETY AND JUSTICE and the word count requirements.

December  17 at 11:59. PM. Writing Contest submissions due. See details above.

December 19   Contest review completed. Award details will be discussed .  Meet at 12:15 in Room 149

January 15, 2019   The “Peace and Justice Post” will be dedicated and the three finalists will perform/present their literature in observance and honor of the late great, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

When I was delegated with this task early this past summer by Principal Aponte, I knew how special this project was going to be. yet the rewards have surpassed all expectations. The relationships, and the leadership still currently developing within our South High School community, including our excellent SRO, Officer Chard, ACW and the Compassionate Arts Team are promising.  I am so proud of our students and so hopeful for they were given the opportunity to be heard and become visible in positive ways! The Peace post is a concrete visual display of their voices, hopes and dreams for generations to come.  And I am humbly honored to have had a part in the process. I am so appreciative of the relentless support and guidance provided by the ACW and The Compassionate Arts teams.   Team Work works!

Isabel Rodriguez-Mendoza

South High School, Assistant Principal